WHAT IS RELAY FOR LIFE?
In more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries, Relay For Life events comprise the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Each Relay For Life event is special to its community, but the movement's true power lies in the combined commitment of thousands of participants, volunteers, and supporters to help the American Cancer Society save lives from cancer.
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
One person can make a difference. Nowhere is that more evident than the story of Dr. Gordy Klatt and the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event that started in Tacoma, Washington, as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer in 1985.
In May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.
Friends, family, and patients watched and supported him as he ran and walked more than 83.6 miles and raised $27,000 through pledges for the fight against cancer. As he circled the track, he thought of how he could get others to take part. He envisioned having teams participate in a 24-hour event to raise money to fight cancer. In 1986, 19 teams were part of the first relay event at the historical Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000.
Gordy's vision has grown into a nationwide event raising nearly $5 billion in fundraising to save lives from cancer. In addition, the American Cancer Society licenses 20 non-governmental cancer organizations in other countries to hold Relay For Life events to battle cancer across the globe.
As Gordy would say, "Keep up the fight!"
During the Survivors Lap, all cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track, celebrating their victory over cancer while cheered on by the other participants who line the track. Relay For Life events also recognize and celebrate caregivers, who give time, love, and support to their friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers facing cancer.
The Luminaria Ceremony takes place after dark, so we can remember people we have lost to cancer, honor people who have fought cancer in the past, and support those whose fight continues. Candles are lit inside of personalized bags and are placed around the Relay track as glowing tributes to those who’ve been affected by cancer.
This emotionally powerful ceremony inspires Relay participants to take action. The Fight Back Ceremony symbolizes the emotional commitment each of us can make in the fight against cancer. The action taken represents what we are willing to do for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our community to fight cancer year-round and to commit to saving lives.